This is the 21st in a series of articles counting down the most important players for Florida State in 2012. There are 38 days until FSU football, and that's how many are left on the list. That means no off days. Oh, and these are not in any specific order.
Nick Moody | 6'2, 242 | RS-SR | Linebacker
Background (Courtesy school bio)
Four-star prospect and a top five player in the state of Pennsylvania according to Rivals.com...played in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl...named honorable mention for best closing speed and most physical at the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl...was projected by some outlets as an outside linebacker based on size...helped his Roman Catholic High School team to the league championship as a senior...was athletic enough to line up at cornerback, safety and linebacker in high school...also reeled in 13 TD receptions as a sophomore wideout...chose FSU over offers from Penn State, Georgia Tech, Michigan State and Temple...born January 29, 1990.
Nick Moody is one of the more interesting players on the list. Here are portions of his "history" from the media guide:
"2010: A first-year starter at free safety, Moody emerged as a physical presence on the back line of the Seminoles' defense...started each of the last 12 games after sitting out the opener with an injury but closed the season in impressive fashion...ranked third on the team with 79 tackles, which included 4.0 tackles for loss and 0.5 sacks...filled his stat line with one interception, two pass breakups, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble
2011: Played in only nine games after being hampered with a groin injury while rotating in at free safety. Started two games.
2012 OUTLOOK: Veteran defensive player for the Seminoles who excelled in the secondary in his first three seasons with the Seminoles but now makes the move to linebacker."
I have a slightly different memory of Moody's career to date.
Moody has always been a big hitter, but he was not always an FSU quality starting safety. I remember Tomahawk being the only site to say that Parks would earn the job over Moody when Joyner had cemented the other starting position. We took a lot of heat for that from various outlets. In the end, Parks started 11 games, while Moody started two.
There was a reason for that. Moody was not instinctive in coverage, did not move quite as well as a safety should, and did not take consistently efficient angles to the football. People often confused his big hitting with being very good against the run. They were not one in the same.
Now Moody, who has bulked up to 242 pounds, has moved to linebacker for his senior season.
The move makes sense, but logic doesn't mean it will work.
Moody takes over for Christian Jones at the SAM linebacker position. This is not a glamour position in Mark Stoops' defense. But it is an important one.
The last known commodity rounding out the most likely starters for the linebackers is senior Nick Moody. While indeed Nick is a senior, this will be his his first time getting full time snaps at the linebacker position. Moody may have been able to make the move earlier but numbers at the safety position dictated that he stay put. That is no longer the case. He has gained considerable weight and made the switch going into spring ball. Moody is known for his hard hits at safety...when he's in position. At times, he reads plays incorrectly, eliminating himself from making a play. However, his best plays came as a safety down in the box in run support. It's likely that being closer to the line of scrimmage and having a chance to knock paint off on run plays will be an easy adjustment for Moody. 'Nole fans are hoping that the RS senior's true physical nature and size will help him make a smooth transition as he'll be relied upon for meaningful snaps this season. For that to become a reality, he needs to work hard this spring to play catch up and learn the nuances of his new role in the defense.
In run support, the SAM is routinely asked to be the force player. It's not a position that makes a lot of tackles. It requires taking on blocks and being in the right position to make sure that the blocker does not hook the player to the inside. If the SAM backer is doing his job, you likely won't notice unless you're watching him specifically. If he doesn't, however, it will be fairly easy to spot.
I think Moody will be OK at the spot. He is very strong, and has never had a problem taking on blockers when he was in the box as a safety. He also won't have time to take a huge running start to make a tackle attempt and be unable to break down near as often.
Moody will also have coverage responsibilities. Like Christian Jones, he will probably be asked to cover tight ends and may have flat responsibility when he walks out to split the difference between the EMOL and the slot receiver.
Moody was never particularly good in coverage as a safety, but the level of difficulty as a linebacker is considerably lower. He should be able to jam opposing tight ends and run with them, etc.
Will Moody be as good a SAM as Christian Jones? Probably not. But he's athletic, physically mature, and likely the best option. FSU doesn't need him to be an All-American to have an excellent defense.
And coach Fisher thinks he can do it. Not that he'd publicly say so if he believed otherwise.
"With Nick being a safety, when he was up there [in the box], the skills and his combination, yeah. I thought he had a very good spring and I think he'll continue in the fall. I think he'll really be able to do that. And it allows Christian to be inside and be much more physical," Fisher said.
I think Moody can be a solid starter for one of the best defenses in the country. So that's what I'll project. Nothing special, just solid.
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PHOTO: Melina Vastola -- U.S. Presswire